It definitely wasn’t like our 2006 honeymoon in Maui – just the two of us, massages on the beach, drinks with umbrellas. Nor was it like our 2008 whirlwind trip through Italy – on a bus…with my mother.
Our trip to Sweden included aspects of each, interwoven with the daily challenges and joys of traveling internationally with an energetic 16-month-old. I wavered between feeling very happy and also feeling stress over Charlie’s safety, my parenting skills, and my lack of control in a foreign country.
Yet, because of its layers, I feel like this was one of the most rewarding vacations we’ve taken.
Imagine the best flight possible. Comparatively, Charlie scored about a 5. Compared to how terrible we thought he’d do, he scored an 8!
Hats off to British Airways, which recently began offering an overnight flight from San Diego to Heathrow. I couldn’t imagine stopping on the East Coast to change planes. As a parent, I was beyond grateful for that direct route.
We could not afford to buy Charlie a ticket, so I imagined an 11-hour flight with a struggling, cranky infant in our laps. To my grateful surprise, British Airways does a great job of seating parents of babies and toddlers behind the bulkhead. Besides having more leg room, the seats feature a fold-out table upon which BA can strap a reclined baby seat. Although we struggled to control Charlie during taxi & takeoff (that kid really doesn’t like to be restrained), we were able to eventually transition him to the seat, where he slept for five hours. During waking hours, he flirted with the stewardesses, visited with other babies in our row and played with the new toys I purchased for the trip.
Things didn’t go so smoothly once we were at Heathrow. I went off in search of a bathroom as soon as we settled at the gate for our connecting flight to Stockholm (side note: Kudos to Heathrow for having a separate security line for families– brilliant!) Husband Charles began fixing our toppling luggage, and didn’t see Charlie scamper onto a chair then try to scamper back down. The little guy fell face first onto the tile floor and bit through part of his lip.
I heard Charlie’s screams from the other side of the terminal. His mouth was covered in blood, along with the adorable outfit he’d worn to meet his Swedish relatives. We made sure he just injured his lip (I didn’t want a sequel to the Tooth Incident) and cleaned up his mouth. Charles and I were streaked with blood by the time we boarded the plane to Stockholm.
Charlie fell asleep; his lip swelled to a the size of a nickel. Charles and I felt exhausted.